A friend of mine and I did our yearly birthday celebration at Dryades Street Market, a place newly opened in an old school building. They’ve done a real nice job with it, making it open and airy, full of light and really friendly folks who work behind the counters. Dryades Street is now called Oretha Castle Haley Blvd in Central City.
Drooling, Drizzling and Dreaming at New Orleans Dryades Street Market
This is on a stretch of street that used to be a bustling center for shopping in the New Orleans of the 1930s – 1950s. A lot of the stores were run by Jewish people and you can still see some of the names attached to the old brick buildings and imbedded in tiles in the sidewalks.
For a long time this famous street had gone into years of decline when all of the once busy stores lost its customers to suburban shopping centers. This also happened to Canal Street which used to house famous department stores like D.H. Holmes and Maison Blanche. Dryades Street had seen better days and eventually displayed only shells of buildings with the entire street looking like something in a ghost town.
But all that changed when Cafe Reconcile was established and started to become popular. It let people know that yes you could open a business here and be successful. Even in the heart of Central City which has over the years garnered the unfortunate reputation for being crime ridden. But Dryades St, now Oretha Castle Haley, appeared to be a bright spot with lots of potential. And so it is.
The Southern Food and Beverage Museum has opened here just steps from Cafe Reconcile as have other restaurants and businesses like the Zeitgeist Theatre which shows first run artsy films.
So we’d heard about this new market that had just opened with not only groceries but an expanded food court. But what were after were the oysters. We’d had a bevy of beautiful bivalves as St. Roch Market the year before and had heard that the same oyster folk had opened a counter at Dryades Street Market. And since our yearly birthday meet-up has to do with going to some place new, we thought we’d try there.
Well, let me tell ya they did a fantastic job with this old school building. The outside looks fresh and new, like it was just built and they’ve used the interior space very creatively, making is a vast open space with an upstairs balcony for tables and such that look down on the market below. And dey got all kindsa deli and to-go food.
But heck we were dere to have da ersters. So we sat at the counter and ordered up some grilled of them. And really how can anybody go wrong with grilled ersters, I mean whoever invented them shoulda been given a Nobel Prize don’tchathink. Just say “grilled oysters” in New Orleans and folks’ eyes will glaze over and they’ll start to drooling.
I’m more of a fan of cooked oysters anyway, think the cooking brings out the flavor. But of course we had to get some of the raw oysters and they had a choice of the regular Gulf oysters or the farmed ones they get from Grande Isle.
Now the farmed ones are a little more expensive than the wild ones and to be honest I think the wild ones have a better flavor, but the advantage of the farmed ones is that you can git ’em all year round. Also, when I eat raw oysters I don’t put nuttin’ on ’em, cher, ‘cept for a little lemon juice drizzled all over, but that’s it.
All in all it was a nice easy Saturday afternoon sitting at the counter talking to the guy behind the bar who is a writer as well as oyster shucker coming to New Orleans to do some research on a historical book.
I’m looking forward to, no, dreaming about going back to the Dryades Street Market. I hope they do some good business, that area needs a good supermarket for the folks there. Go see it, and have some oysters and a drink.